Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pitch Wars is HERE! My Mentor Bio and Wish List! :)

So! Pitch Wars is finally here and I’m so excited!

As some of you know, I’ll be mentoring someone with a YA ms, and we’re going to polish it to take it with a tuxedo and a tie to the agents’ round in January. And hopefully, this writer will get MANY offers of representation! *wink* 

Now my bio and my wish list!

I’m a mother of three boys and owner of eleven hens. When I’m not collecting laundry or eggs, I write YA fiction. I’m represented by Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency, and I’ve worked with many published YA authors, such as Francisco Stork, Gretchen McNeil, Debra Driza, and Kimberly Sabatini—among others. I freelance, too, and I absolutely love helping others hone their manuscripts.

Let me tell you what I want to read this year, but first, I’ll let you know what I DO NOT want to read this year:

- YA dystopian—I’ve read too many and, even though I know there could be a true gem out there, I’m not up to it this year.
- A novel written in verse.
- A quiet novel. Like, a teen losing someone they love and the ms is just about this teen coping with this death… or something quiet like that.
- A novel that’s over 100,000 words. While there are a few mss that are over 100k that get pubbed like Twilight, this contest will take place in just a couple of months, so I don’t think we’ll have time to edit thoroughly something that has so many words.

What I would LOVE to read:

-Contemporary YA.  
I love this genre. In fact, the MS I picked last year was a contemp. YA that did more than well in the agents’ round. (More about that later!)
I want an original contemp. YA with a hook—nothing that is too quiet (like I said above). Give me something fresh, and if it has romance, then even better. I love girl POVs and guy POVs, love flawed characters that make you feel. (BTW, I’m writing a contemporary YA right now, and I’ve read tons of books in this genre. Also, I've been so lucky to beta some awesome contemp. YAs, like THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US by Kasie West /Harper Teen 2012 and VICKY by Francisco X. Stork /Scholastic 2015.) 
Seriously, if you have a contemporary YA, I'm your gal!

-Literary YA.
Last year, someone asked me about literary YA. So I want to specify here—think of a MS that is beautifully written, that it doesn’t only matter what happens in the book, but it also matters THE WAY it’s written. The cadence and rhythm is beautiful and the characters are complex and flawed and loveable at the same time. An example of lovely prose would be Lauren DeStephano’s WITHER. Or Nova Ren Suma’s IMAGINARY GIRLS.
If your MS has a commercial aspect, like an intriguing and hooking premise (again, that isn’t quiet), and it’s written beautifully, with a literary slant, then it’s very possible that I will pick your ms.

-Fantasy YA, and Urban Fantasy YA
I love fantasy, but not high fantasy. (High fantasy is something set in a very different world, sometimes with a different language, etc—like Eragon, Lord of The Rings, etc). Since editors aren't buying so many Fantasy YAs lately (they are currently asking for contemporaries and the like) I will be picky with this genre, but if I see something I truly love, then I'll definitely pick it.

- Historical YA
I just finished revising a historical YA I wrote, and I’ve read tons of historical YAs to get the language right and all. So I know my share of historical YA. The bad news is that I’ve also learned that is a tough genre to sell, so it has to be really awesome. And the writing must be smooth, and the plot shouldn’t be predictable, either. If you think your Historical YA is very original and your writing is there, then please send it my way!

- YA Sci-fi
I have to be honest. Sci-fi isn’t my favorite genre. But I HAVE picked sci-fi in contests before. Like one of the mss I picked for The Writer’s Voice 2012 was a great YA sci-fi that later sold in a six-figure deal. What I’m trying to say here—I read sci-fi. I’m just very picky when it comes to it. But again, if I love it, I will definitely take it.

- Magical Realism YA
SURE!!! As I mentioned above, I loved IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma, and that is totally magical realism. Seriously. I love magical Realism.

-Thriller YAs
I love the nature of this genre—that it makes you flip pages because you really want to know what the heck is going on! And then there’s always a twist that you hopefully didn’t see coming and you’re like, WOW! Yeah. I want that. Said this, I have a couple of things to say. If it’s a YA thriller, I want a romantic subplot (it doesn’t have to be a huge romantic thing, just that there’s a love interest). And I want that there are enough teens around—let me explain. Sometimes YA thrillers include institutions like the FBA, CIA, whatever, and those are filled with grownups. Teens want to read about teens. So if your YA thriller has romance and there are a few teens around (without so much focus on what the grownups do), then send it my way, please!

-Paranormal YA
It makes me sad that editors aren’t buying Paranormal YA as they used to. Because come on! It’s a great genre. This being said, I'll be looking for something exceptionally good in this genre.

-Horror YA
Yes!! Send it my way. *thinks better of it* *shudders* Um, no!! Okay… yes? But promise you’ll send it during the day. Otherwise I won’t be able to sleep!! *wink* But seriously? Sure! I love this genre, too. I’m even in the acknowledgements of a YA Horror published by Balzer & Bray, and I loved that book.

YA Memoir
It has to be something original and that reads like fiction. I may fall in love with a YA Memoir!

And if you think of any other YA genre that I didn’t mention, then SURPRISE ME, and send it my way—unless of course, it’s something I specifically said I don’t want to read. ;)

Why should you pick me?
Well, I’m going to let my last year’s mentee, the lovely Missy Mitchell, to answer that for me:

“Monica is the mentor YOU need. First, she knows her stuff, which is totally important. She has a great eye for "big picture" and line-edits. She also helped brainstorm ideas with me to help bring my MS to the next level. And availability?? I have to tell you, Monica was available at a moment's notice. She was super fast with her edits and responses, even if I would send a regular old email to just talk about a MS idea. << This is super important during #pitchwars. Most important, I received offers from agentS and am now talking with publishers. 'Tis true!! So you should choose her. She's the one!”

Also, you may want to check out my Editorial Services page, because I have some other testimonials there.
And I’ll say what I said last year: you should pick me because I’m going to make you work so hard, you’ll fall off the grid while revising your MS. Because I have lots of experience editing mss, and I can help you brainstorm. And because we’ll have fun in the process!

Summing up, PICK ME! ;)

<3 Mónica

Oh, OH! And while I was drafting this post, the lovely Brenda Drake sent us the names of the 18 participating agents. Aren't they awesome?

For submission guidelines, go to

Now, the list of mentors so you can hop around the blogs! (Or maybe don't, because you're going to pick me, right?)

2. Stacey Lee

32. Stephanie Garber

Secret letter: R


  1. Pick Monica. Pick Monica. She's an amazing talent AND one of the sweetest people on the planet.

    1. Awww. You're amazing, my friend. I miss you!! XO

  2. Hi Monica! Since you seem like you'd be an AWESOME mentor, I wanted to ask you if a mind reading/mind control story would fall under any of your "I would love to read" categories. I think of it as paranormal, but someone else called it magical realism or even fantasy. Any thoughts for me? :)

    1. Hey Robin!
      Sure. I like that subject. I'd happily read. :) Though I think it sounds a little like paranormal. But if the "mind reading" part is presented in a sort of real way, and nothing else is fantastic, then it *could* be magical realism, and that would be even better.
      Of course, for me it's important to connect to the voice (I like "natural" voices, not chatty voices, which I see a lot in slush), and with the characters and their emotions. Sometimes it's more about these last things for me than the plot itself, makes sense? :)
      Hope this helps!

    2. Super helpful! It actually does sound more like magical realism then. Thanks so much, Monica!

  3. I am totally smitten with your funny self, but I'm not going to say so. Because I'm cool like that. ;)

    I was wondering if you'd mind clarifying your tastes in YA Fantasy? I have a YA Contemporary Fantasy with lyrical prose and elements of humor and sweet romance (I draw a lot of inspiration from Allie Condie and Rainbow Rowell). But the story involves a mirror portal to an earth-like world, and I know that concept won't appeal to all mentors who list fantasy on their wish list. Thoughts? :)

    1. Hey, Kimberly!
      Thanks for that, even though you didn't say anything. Hee hee! :)

      Oh, I love lyrical prose. And humor! And sweet romance!!!!

      And I'm all right with that concept. As I said above, I like fantasy YA a LOT. I would look for originality with this concept, though, since there are a few "portal" books out there. So I'd look closely at the query. But if the writing is lovely and I like the MC, then sure! I may fall in love.

      In other words, I'd be happy to read.

      Hope this helps!

    2. That helps hugely, thank you so much! Portal fantasy is tricky to do well because hey, Narnia, Wonderland, etc. Mine is more character-driven than world-driven though, so fingers crossed. :) Thanks for taking the time to reply!

    3. Oh, I always like it when it's more about the characters. If they are complex and all. And no prob! It was nice chatting with you. :D